Professor Greg Sambrook Smith PhD

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Professor of Fluvial Sedimentology
Head of Research

Contact details

Address
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

Professor Sambrook Smith investigates the linkages between river processes and sedimentology at scales ranging from individual pores within a river bed up to km-long bars in large rivers.

The World’s largest rivers suffer from a paucity of knowledge about how they currently function, how they have evolved through time and how they may respond to future environmental changes. This lack of knowledge matters to the millions of people who live and work on their floodplains but also to society more widely as large river deposits from some of the World’s most important water aquifers, hydrocarbon reservoirs and potential sites for CO2 storage.

As a process-based fluvial sedimentologist, Professor Sambrook Smith has developed river science by blending, field, experimental and numerical methods to generate a new perspective which bridges temporal and spatial scales to provide a holistic framework for understanding both modern and ancient systems. His research generates new, generic and quantitative understanding of how rivers function across these scales. This is facilitated by development of new techniques such as endoscopic particle imaging velocimetry for use in porous media or application of geophysical techniques for fluvial context.

Qualifications

BSc (University of Leeds)

PhD (University of Sheffield)

Biography

Professor Sambrook Smith was awarded his BSc in Geography from the University of Leeds in 1991 and completed his PhD at the University of Sheffield in 1994 under the supervision of Rob Ferguson. He was appointed as a Lecturer in Physical Geography at the University of Leeds for the academic year 1994/95. He then spent six years as a Lecturer in the School of Earth Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University before joining the University of Birmingham in 2001.

Teaching

Modules taught;

Level 1: Global Environmental Issues

Level 2: Geomorphological Processes

Level 3: River Processes and Deposits

Masters: Fluvial Geomorphology

Postgraduate supervision

  • Natalie Parker (PhD); Are extreme events important? Sedimentological and geomorphological response to floods (with Stuart Lane, Durham)
  • Adam Hitchman (PhD); Nanoparticle and trace element fate and behaviour in the surface-subsurface environment: impacts of chemistry, flow and bed structure (with Jamie Lead and Mark Sterling).
  • Tomasz Zuk (MPhil); Characteristics of meandering river deposits revealed using ground penetrating radar and resistivity surveys

Potential students should e-mail Professor Sambrook Smith directly.

Research

Research interests

I combine novel field, experimental and numerical methods to develop new fundamental advances in river science applicable across broad spatial and temporal scales. Specific areas of expertise include;

  • The morphodynamics and sedimentology of the World’s largest rivers
  • Application of novel geophysical techniques to image subsurface alluvial architecture
  • Braided river processes and deposits
  • Quantification of alluvial facies distributions for use in the hydrocarbon industry
  • Floodplain sedimentation
  • The tidally influenced fluvial zone
  • Influence of bed permeability on open channel flows
  • Flow in porous media
  • Development of endoscopic particle imaging velocimetry methods
  • The role of biofilms in mediating surface-subsurface exchanges

Current and recent research

Grants as Lead PI

NERC standard grant, 2014-2018, The hydrodynamics of microbial landscapes, lead PI, £733000. In collaboration with the University of Durham, UK; Urbana-Champaign, USA; Notre Dame, USA.

NERC standard grant, 2012-2017, The sedimentology of fluvial megascours, lead PI, £778225. In collaboration with the University of Southampton, UK; University of Exeter, UK; Urbana-Champaign, USA; Vanderbilt University, USA; CEGIS, Bangladesh.

NERC small grant, 2011-2012, The sedimentary dynamics of fine-grained rivers: a novel application of marine geophysics to develop new fluvial facies models, lead PI, £46980. In collaboration with Urbana-Champaign, USA; Corrientes University, Argentina.

NERC standard grant, 2007-2011, Fluid dynamics across the interface in gravel-bed rivers; quantification and numerical modelling of flow in the hyporheic zone, lead PI, £466352. In collaboration with the University of Durham, UK; Urbana-Champaign, USA.

NERC urgency grant, 2005-2006, Braidplain Response to an extreme flood event, lead PI, £20445. In collaboration with the University of Durham, UK; University of Leeds, UK; Binghamton University, USA.

NERC standard grant, 2004-2007, Generation, preservation and prediction of sandy braided alluvium: an integrated ground penetrating radar, digital photogrammetry and probabilistic modelling approach, lead PI, £241242. In collaboration with the University of Durham, UK; University of Leeds, UK; Binghamton University, USA.

Grants as Joint PI

NERC standard grant, 2015-2018, Modelling how sediment suspension controls the morphology and evolution of sand-bed rivers, joint PI, £742113

NERC standard grant, 2010-2013, Morphodynamics and sedimentology of the tidally-influenced fluvial zone, joint PI, £758631

NERC standard grant, 2010-2013, Do floods matter? Bridging the gap between fluvial morphodynamics & alluvial architecture, joint PI, £661185

NERC standard grant, 2008-2011, Dynamics and deposits of braid-bars in the World's largest rivers: processes, morphology & subsurface sedimentology, joint PI, £753345

NERC small grant, 1999-2001, Three-dimensional architecture of sandy braided rivers: quantitative facies models and testing of scale invariance, joint PI, £36692

Other activities

  • Head of Research, GEES
  • Chair of the University NERC strategy Group
  • Member of NERC peer review college and technologies panel
  • External examiner at University of Liverpool

Publications

Sinha, S., Hardy, R.J., Blois, G., Best, J.L. and Sambrook Smith, G.H. (2017). The influence of bed permeability on the structure of turbulent flow over bedforms: a numerical investigation. Water Resources Research.

Zuk, T., Sydor, P. & Sambrook-Smith, G.H. (2017) Late-Holocene wind-field evolution at the southern Baltic coast as revealed by GPR data from the Mrzeżyno dunefield, NW Poland. Boreas.

Sambrook Smith, G.H., Best, J.L., LeRoy, J.Z. and Orfeo, O. (2016) The alluvial architecture of a suspended sediment dominated meandering river: the Río Bermejo, Argentina. Sedimentology, doi: 10.1111/sed.12256

Nicholas, A.P., Sambrook Smith, G.H., Amsler, M.L., Ashworth, P.J., Best, J.L., Hardy, R.J., Lane, S.N., Orfeo, O., Parsons, D.R., Reesink, A.J.H., Sandbach, S.D., Simpson, C.J. and Szupiany, R.N. (2016) The role of discharge variability in determining alluvial stratigraphy. Geology, 44, 3-6.

Schwendel, A.C., Nicholas, A.P., Aalto, R.E., Sambrook Smith, G.H. and Buckley, S. (2015) Interaction between meander dynamics and floodplain heterogeneity in a large tropical sand-bed river: the Rio Beni, Bolivia. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 40, 2026-2040.

Zuk, T. and Sambrook Smith, G.H. (2015). Radar stratigraphy – a method for analysing 3D GPR data in sedimentary environments as exemplified by fluvial sediments. Przegląd Geograficzny, 87, 439-456.

Blois, G., Best, J.L., Sambrook Smith, G.H. and Hardy, R.J. (2014) Effect of bed permeability and hyporheic flow on turbulent flow over bedforms. Geophysical Research Letters, 41, 6435–6442

Reesink, A.J.H., Ashworth, P.J., Sambrook Smith, G.H., Best, J.L., Parsons, D.R., Amsler, M.L., Hardy, R.J., Lane, S.N., Nicholas, A.P., Orfeo, O., Sandbach, S.D., Simpson, C.J. and Szupiany, R.N. (2014) Scales and causes of heterogeneity in bars in a large multi-channel river: Río Paraná, Argentina. Sedimentology. DOI: 10.1111/sed.12092

Reesink, A.J.H., Ashworth, P.J., Sambrook Smith, G.H. et al. (2013) Scales and causes of heterogeneity in bars in a large multi-channel river: Río Paraná, Argentina. Sedimentology. DOI: 10.1111/sed.12092

Nicholas, A.P., Ashworth, P.J., Sambrook Smith, G.H. and Sandbach, S.D. (2013) Numerical simulation of bar and island morphodynamics in anabranching mega-rivers. Journal of Geophysical Research. DOI: 10.1002/jgrf.20132

Sambrook Smith, G.H., Best, J.L., Orfeo, O., Vardy, M.E. and Zinger, J.A. (2013) Decimeter-scale in situ mapping of modern cross-bedded dune deposits using parametric echo sounding: A new method for linking river processes and their deposits. Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1002/grl.50703.

Blois, G., Best, J.L., Christensen, K.T., Hardy, R.J. and Sambrook Smith, G.H. (2013). Coherent flow structures in the pore spaces of permeable beds underlying a unidirectional turbulent boundary layer: A review and some new experimental results. In: Coherent Flow Structures at Earth’s Surface (Ed. by J.G. Venditti, J.L. Best, M. Church and R.J. Hardy), Wiley, Chichester, 43-62.

Lunt, I. A., Sambrook Smith, G. H., Best, J. L., Ashworth, P.J., Lane, S. N. and Simpson, C. J. (2013) Deposits of the sandy braided South Saskatchewan River: implications for the use of modern analogues in reconstructing channel dimensions in reservoir characterisation Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. ISSN 0002-7464

Parker, N. O., Sambrook Smith, G. H., Ashworth, P.J., Best, J. L., Lane, S. N., Lunt, I. A., Simpson, C. J. and Thomas, R. E. (2013) Quantification of the relationship between surface morphodynamics and subsurface sedimentological product in sandy braided rivers Sedimentology . ISSN 0037-0746

Hitchman, A., Sambrook Smith, G.H., Sterling, M., Yu-Nam, Y.K. and Lead, J. (2013) The effect of environmentally relevant conditions on PVP stabilised gold nanoparticles. Chemosphere.

Nicholas, A. P., Sandbach, S. D., Ashworth, P.J., Amsler, M. L., Best, J. L., Hardy, R. J., Lane, S. N., Orfeo, O., Parsons, D. R., Reesink, A. J. H., Sambrook Smith, G. H. and Szupiany, R. N. (2012) Modelling hydrodynamics in the Rio Paraná, Argentina: an evaluation and inter-comparison of reduced-complexity and physics-based models applied to a large sand-bed river Geomorphology, 169-170 . pp. 192-211. ISSN 0169-555X

Fielding, Christopher R., Ashworth, P.J., Best, J. L., Prokocki, Eric W. and Sambrook Smith, G. H. (2012) Tributary, distributive and other fluvial patterns; what really represents the norm in the continental rock record (invited review) Sedimentary Geology, 261-262 . pp. 15-32. ISSN 0037-0738

Blois, G., Sambrook Smith, G.H., Best, J.L., Hardy, R.J. and Lead, J.R. (2012) Quantifying the dynamics of flow within a permeable bed using time-resolved endoscopic particle imaging velocimetry (EPIV). Experiments in Fluids, doi: 10.1007/s00348-011-1198-8.

Ashworth, P.J., Sambrook Smith, G.H., Best, J.L., Bridge, J.S., Lane, S.N., Lunt, I.A., Reesink, A.J.H., Simpson, C.J. and Thomas, R.E.  (2011) Evolution and sedimentology of a channel fill in the sandy braided South Saskatchewan River and  its comparison to the deposits of an adjacent compound bar. Sedimentology, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3091.2011.01242.x.

Sambrook Smith, G.H., Best, J.L., Ashworth, P.J., Lane, S.J., Parker, N.O., Lunt, I.A., Thomas, R.E. and Simpson, C.J. (2010) Can we distinguish flood frequency and magnitude in the sedimentological record of rivers? Geology, 38, 579-582.

Lane , S.N., Widdison, P.E., Thomas, R.E., Ashworth, P.J., Best, J.L., Lunt, I., Sambrook Smith, G.H. , Simpson, C.L. (2010) Quantification of braided river channel change using archival digital image analysis. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 35, 971-985.

Sambrook Smith, G. H., Ashworth, P. J., Best, J. L., Lunt, I. A., Orfeo, O. and Parsons, D. R. (2009) The sedimentology and alluvial architecture of a large braid bar. Río Paraná, Argentina. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 79, 629-642.